“Hi, Steve.” the text message began. “I’m in the hospital. Emergency gall bladder surgery tonight, 2-week recovery. Sure, why not? So won’t see u Sunday.”
It’s true, Robert has a lot going on in his Story. Significant challenges, “life’s not fair” stuff. He didn’t sign up for this. And now, another uninvited, unexpected, and unwanted event. “Sure, why not?”
Can you identify with his frustration? Feel the “Why me?”
Who said it would be easy?
You know it’s true, but it’s easy to forget that life’s not fair. Other expectations set us up for frustration and disillusionment.
It’s easy for your response to go negative. You process the story with questions. If you’re not careful, they all start with: “Why?” Not only “Why me?” but “Why am I so…?” “Why did I…?” “Of all times, why now?”
You know the drill.
sIf beating yourself up doesn’t work you can shift to the blame game. “Why can’t he…?” “Why doesn’t she…?” “Why don’t they…?”
Am I right?
Life happens, now what?
It’s like the old computer mantra: garbage in, garbage out. Bad questions deliver invalid information.
Pain creates irrational behavior. Unpleasant, disruptive events or painful feedback sets the stage for reactive behavior. For example, to avoid the “truth in the Story” it’s easy to use one or more of these defense mechanisms: blame, denial, being a victim, minimizing, or rationalizing. Such reactions leave us stuck and unable to move forward.
Asking the wrong questions won’t support personal responsibility or personal growth. So, part of the solution is to use open-ended questions to create space to think.
The Story requires you to stop and think. Future success demands that you seek the truth. Truth — facts and reality — come to liberate you. It declares the promise of possibilities, potential, and expanded influence. Remember,
The best predictor of future success is
the ability and willingness to learn and change,
achieved through consistent reflection on truth in the Story.
What if you ask a different question?
When you want to scream, “It’s not fair! Why me? Why now?” create space to think. Wisdom is needed, the ability to see life from another perspective.
Michael Hyatt advises us to use a different question when in a tough time: “What does this make possible?”
Now, how soon you can use this question depends on at least five things:
- The severity of the event/experience and what you believe about it
- Mindfulness, being aware of what’s going on in and around you
- Your positivity and outlook on life
- Your ability and willingness to learn and change
- Your desire to engage the truth in the Story
Warning: this is a question you must learn to ask yourself. To ask another person going through a “life’s not fair moment” requires a depth of relationship and discernment.
For your reflection
As I write this, it’s still too early for Robert to know the answer to the question, he just got home from the hospital. But to benefit from this part of the Story, he will need to ask: “What does this make possible?”
Take your journal and begin to listen and reflect:
- What’s going on in your Story that has you thinking life isn’t fair?
- What’s tempting you to assume a victim perspective? Where do you want to blame? Deny? Minimize? Rationalize?
- Where is life hard? Where do you feel like asking “Why me?”
- Now, what do you hear when you ask: “What does (your tough situation) make possible?”
No answer, yet? Keep asking. In time, you’ll know.
Here’s to your break through,
Image credit: Donna Sullivan Thomson via flickr